Rupert's paid poodles are circling the wagons, proving once again that there is nothing more viciously tribal than a News Ltd newsroom.
In an obviously coordinated move, Murdoch's scribblers sought to ridicule what they clearly had been told to say was a paranoid attack by Fairfax columnist Laura Tingle and the blogosphere over News Ltd's partisan news coverage.
Geoff Elliott, Mark Day and Caroline Overington sang from the same songsheet, declaring in one way or another that News Ltd was being assailed for doing its job in applying the unflinching scrutiny to the government demanded by its membership of the Fourth Estate.
Elliott poured on the snark, implying that the criticism of News amounted to a kind of attempted censorship and castigating Tingle for not standing on the side of her big business readers; in other words, joining News in vowing to "destroy the Greens". So Tingle was less of a journalist, according to Elliott, because she failed to piss in the pockets of her readership.
Elliott's colleague, Overington, meanwhile, showed her journalistic bravery by standing squarely with the interests of Rupert. Overington used her media column to accuse Tingle of hypocrisy, pointing out that News' Sunday Telegraph broke from the Murdoch line and backed Labor in the campaign, while Tingle's AFR pinned its colours to the Coalition.
This rather misses the point, of course. The complaints about News are not about its opinion pages and editorials, but about the skewing of its "straight" news coverage to run the daily news agenda. Even insiders at The Australian wince at the newspaper's partisanship. So for these columnists to question the integrity of Laura Tingle, probably the best political reporter in the country, speaks volume for how low they will stoop in their master's bidding.
None of this bullying, hectoring behaviour by News Ltd should surprise anyone who has seen the 2004 documentary 'Outfoxed: Rupert Murdoch's War on Journalism', a film which exposed how Murdoch's outlets use smear, manipulation and misinformation to further their proprietor's ideological and commercial interests..
When News Ltd applies the same scrutiny to the Opposition as they have to the Greens and Labor, they can start lecturing others about journalistic standards.
PS: On the same subject, see Media Watch's neat expose of The Australian's use of its news pages to run a vicious political agenda against The Greens.